Apple Picking, 2018









Applesauce 2017









Aunt Helen’s Apple Pie Cake

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

You’ve probably heard of people joining a CSA: you buy a “share” and then every two weeks you pick up a load of whatever fresh vegetables happen to be in season.

We have recently joined an apple CSA, which means every two weeks we get another 10 lbs of apples, straight from the orchard.

You call it an apple CSA, I call it PURE BLISS.


The Journey:

I love apple anything.

I love apples like a lazy house painter loves the rain. I love apples like Trader Joe loves pumpkin flavored food. I love apples like Evelyn loves solid color leggings with mostly matching solid color shirts.

I love apples.


If you really want to look like a genius, instead of using 2 eggs, you can use 1 egg + 3 egg whites, and parlay those 3 egg yolks into a batch of Charred Brussels Sprouts Carbonara.

The Verdict:

Nothing pairs better with cool, dim, slightly-rainy days and the crinkle of leaves under your feet than the taste of apples and cinnamon. Nothing tastes more sweaters and knitting and holding your loved ones close before the eternal Chicago winter steals your breath and settles in your bones.

So soft and moist, so fall-like. I definitely recommend a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top. Maybe a steaming mug of tea on the side.


The Recipe:

Recipe adapted from the 1999 Marne United Methodist Church cookbook, or previous to that, from Sara’s mom’s Aunt Helen.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 5 cups chopped apples (about 4 large apples)
  • 4 Tbsp. hot water (forgot this, but it turned out fine, so?)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream butter with mixer; beat in sugar and eggs
  3. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking soda, and flour
  4. Add nuts, apples, water, and vanilla and fold together (with spoon, not mixer)
  5. Bake in 9×13 pan for 40 to 45 minutes.
  6. Serve warm or cooled with whipped cream or ice cream

Apple Baked French Toast

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

This is something of an old family recipe, and I am tired of always trying to find it online. Saving here for posterity.

My mom has always made apple baked french toast. It was always a kind of “special occasion” breakfast, but we particularly like to have it on Christmas morning. We prepare it the night before, and then when we get up, we start the oven preheating. We pop it in the oven, and it’s ready to go right about when we finish opening presents!

The Journey:

This is not actually my mom’s recipe; this is just a modified version of one that we found on the Internet. It must be pretty similar. Mom, care to comment?

One thing I would recommend is using bread that is a bit drier, like a baguette or something a little crustier, to soak up some of the egg-liquid.


All recipes say to peel the apples, but I’m way too lazy for that. I honestly don’t think you need to (apple peels get pretty soft when you cook them), but that’s up to you I guess.


However, we do have a bit of mitigating circumstances.

Usually when my mom makes it, she uses her “apple peeler-corer-slicer” to peel and cut the apples:

We don’t have one of those. However, as you may know, we have a family tradition of making applesauce every year. Lucky for me, Mom and Ron usually also can cut up apples and give them to us for Christmas, which means we have a supply of already-peeled-and-cut apples, which makes this pretty easy. One jar is not quite enough for a batch of apple baked french toast, so we cut up 3 or 4 apples in addition.


The Verdict:

Well, it should be pretty obvious at this point that I recommend this one. It’s great for when you have guests, by itself, with syrup, or with whipped cream on top.


The Recipe:

Recipe inspired by King Arthur Flour:

  • 1 baguette, about 18″ to 20″ long
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 dashes cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (skip if bread is salty)


  • 1 jar of canned apples + 3 or 4 apples thinly sliced (~6 large apples if not using canned)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Optional: 1/2 – 3/4 cup walnuts or pecans
  1. Lightly butter a 10″ x 15″ baking pan or similar-sized casserole dish.
  2. Slice a crusty loaf of bread into 1″ slices. Place the slices of bread into the pan.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl beat the eggs, then whisk in the milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
  4. Pour this mixture over the bread, and let it soak in while you’re preparing the topping.
  5. Peel and slice the apples thinly. Toss them with the remaining topping ingredients, and spread them over the bread in the pan.
  6. To bake immediately, preheat the oven to 375°F. To bake up to 48 hours later, cover the pan, and refrigerate.
  7. NOTE: we cover with tinfoil to avoid burning the top
  8. Bake the French toast in a preheated 375°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples are soft and the eggs set. If it’s been refrigerated, remove the cover, and bake for 60 to 70 minutes.
  9. NOTE: We always, always do it cold. We put it in the oven while it is preheating, so the glass pan doesn’t break due to temperature shock, and set the timer for 80 minutes.